|George W. Weeks|
George Warren Weeks, Jr.
1885 - 1953
B western fans may remember George W. Weeks as the producer of the twenty-four Range Busters oaters for Monogram Pictures which were released from 1940 - 1943. He was born March 21, 1885 in Ann Arbor, Washtenaw County, Michigan to George W. Weeks and Lucy S. Harnden Weeks, and father George was the proprietor of a local market garden as well as a coal and wood yard.
George Jr.'s movie career spanned about forty-five years and his specialty was theater management, movie sales, and film distribution. 1909 issues of Nickelodeon and Moving Picture World trade publications had news of his early years in Detroit:
"Detroit, Mich. - Harry D. Brackett and George W. Weeks have taken over the active management of the Michigan Film and Supply Company, 1106 Union Trust building. Mr. Brackett will be manager, Mr. Weeks representative, while William F. Klatt will remain as president of the company, which controls about half the moving picture theaters of the city and about 40 per cent in the state."
In the early 1910s, Weeks managed several of John Kunsky's Detroit theaters. Then came a stint running the Detroit office of the Universal Film company, and circa 1915, he was appointed manager of the Detroit office of the Metro Film Corporation. In 1917, he went to work for M. H. Hoffman as division manager of the Detroit Foursquare Exchange which distributed to Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana. Circa 1918, he was appointed as representative for Famous Players-Lasky (Paramount and Artcraft pictures). And soon after, he was General Manager of Famous Players-Lasky Film Service, Ltd., of Canada, with headquarters in Toronto.
More responsibility came his way in the 1920s. Weeks was one of three Division Sales Managers for the Lasky / Paramount organization, and in 1925, he became General Manager of Distribution for Lasky / Paramount. In the late 1920s, Famous Players-Lasky / Paramount and Metro decided to create a specialized group to handle sales and distribution of their shorts and Weeks was selected as boss of that unit.
In 1929, he was vice president and general manager of new independent production company Sono Art, and became Executive Vice President when Sono Art and World Wide Pictures merged later that year.
Ralph M. Like's Action Pictures, Inc. had been around for a few years, churning out low budget adventure, crime and melodramas for the states right market. In early 1932, the company became Mayfair Pictures and Weeks was appointed as President. Guess #1 - the rationale to hire Weeks was his sales / distribution expertise and industry connections, attributes that could generate additional revenue for low rent Mayfair.
Alas, Mayfair continued to struggle and went belly up in 1934 but Weeks wasn't around at the end. Trades indicate he resigned the pres job in July, 1933 due to health issues ... or to start a new company. Guess #2 - the real reason for Week's exit was that he was aware of Mayfair's troubles and decided to seek employment elsewhere.
His next stop was early 1934 when he became general sales manager for Gaumont- British Pictures, and he was with G-B through late 1937. In March, 1938, Weeks began a new job as general sales manager for Monogram Pictures.
(From Old Corral collection)
From left to right are John King, Ray 'Crash' Corrigan and Max Terhune, the heroes in the first sixteen Range Busters. Then came four with King, Terhune and stuntman Dave Sharpe. And the final four starred Corrigan, Terhune and Dennis Moore. Terhune was the only member to appear in all twenty-four.
Corrigan and Terhune were members of Republic's Three Mesquiteers trio series. And singer John King is best remembered as the star of Universal's ACE DRUMMOND serial in 1936.
"Phoenix Productions has been formed with George Weeks as president and Anna Belle Ward as Vice President and associate producer. Weeks formerly was vice-president of Monogram in charge of sales and Miss Ward is assistant general manager of Elliott-Ward Enterprises, theater circuit, at Lexington, Ky. The company plans eight Westerns in a series to be known as 'The Range Busters' for Monogram release."
Twenty-four westerns were released from 1940 - 1943. The first, aptly titled THE RANGE BUSTERS (Monogram, 1940), hit the theaters in Summer, 1940. BULLETS AND SADDLES (Monogram, 1943) was the finale and released in Fall, 1943.
The demise of the Busters wasn't a problem for Monogram. The little studio had hired Johnny Mack Brown in early 1943 and his initial entries were distributed along with the final batch of Range Busters. And Monogram had brought two old timers back to the silver screen - Ken Maynard and Hoot Gibson were their new "Trail Blazers", working for producer and director Robert Emmett 'Bob' Tansey.
After the Busters rode off into Hollywood history, Weeks' career faltered. He connected with Producers Releasing Corporation (PRC) for a film or two, but nothing came out of that brief relationship. He later dabbled in 16mm films for the non-theatrical market (educational, religious and home). September, 1952 trade publications had news of Monogram / Allied Artists purchasing the Monogram franchised exchange in Detroit which was owned by George Weeks, William B. Hurlbut and Jack Saxe.
As to family and personal life, Meeks married Alice Zoe Begole (1884 - 1973) in 1905 in Michigan and daughter Dorothea Zoe Weeks was born in 1907. Family trees on Ancestry.com indicate that Dorothy Zoe Mapletoft passed away in 1952 in New Jersey.
Suffering for years from obesity, asthma, and heart problems, George Warren Weeks passed away from a heart attack on November 16, 1953 at his home in Van Nuys, California.
Although some of the data may be incomplete or inaccurate, the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) has information on George W. Weeks: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0917316
Many of the Range Busters adventures are available for viewing or downloading at YouTube and the Internet Archive:
Internet Archive: https://archive.org/details/moviesandfilms?and%5B%5D=%22range+busters%22
(Courtesy of Les Adams)
One of the early sound Mountie flicks was MOUNTED FURY (Sono-Art/World Wide, 1931) and starred John Bowers. Bowers was a silent screen star, but his career faded with the coming of sound. Attending a party in 1936, Bowers walked into the Pacific Ocean, committing suicide. Scuttlebutt is that his death was the inspiration for the fictional (and suicidal) 'Norman Maine' character in the 1937 and 1954 versions of A STAR IS BORN. The producer was George W. Weeks.
(Courtesy of Minard Coons)
Above is the cover of the pressbook for Range Busters adventure #4, TRAIL OF THE SILVER SPUR (Monogram, 1941), which featured I. Stanford Jolley as the "Jingler". The completed film had a minor title change to THE TRAIL OF THE SILVER SPURS.
(Courtesy of Les Adams)
Above is the title lobby card for Range Busters adventure #21, THE LAND OF HUNTED MEN (Monogram, 1943) which was the debut of Dennis Moore as a member of the trio.
(Courtesy of Les Adams)
Above are the production and distribution companies for the Range Busters. January, 1941 issues of Boxoffice and Film Daily had articles about Weeks changing the name of his company from Phoenix Productions, Inc. to Range Busters, Inc.
1941 organization chart of Weeks' Range Busters, Inc. company.
1942 Monogram Pictures organization chart. In addition to Weeks, Production Supervisors (producers) included Lindsley Parsons, Ed Finney, Sam Katzman, A. W. Hackel, and Bob Tansey. They reported to Vice President of Production Scott R. Dunlap.
Weeks' Range Busters production company was still in business as of 1948 ... but not much was happening.
(Courtesy of Bill Hemmings)
Bill Hemmings' grandfather was Paul Seefeld who hailed from Kewaskum, Wisconsin (North of Milwaukee). Seefeld wound up in the Los Angeles area doing carpentry and remodeling work ... including work at George W. Weeks' later office location at 11315 Ventura Boulevard, North Hollywood, California.
George W. Weeks and family
Family Search (free), California Death Index, death certificate, and trade publications provide more on George W. Weeks and family:
Find A Grave website - George Warren Weeks (1885-1953) and wife Zoe Begole Weeks (1884-1973) are interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale, California: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/85544349/george-warren-weeks
Google Books has Past and Present of Washtenaw County Michigan by Samuel W. Beakes (S. J. Clarke Publishing, 1906). It has biographies on notables from Washtenaw County. Info on George Weeks' parents and family is on page 363: https://books.google.com/books?id=JD0XAQAAMAAJ&dq=%22george+w.+weeks%22&source=gbs_navlinks_s
George W. Weeks' wife Zoe Begole and the Begole Family
Thanks to Lael Montgomery, Ph.D. (daughter of Barbara Begole Montgomery) for the following Begole Family history. Lael is a family historian and genealogist who has compiled the history of her mother's family. She is the author of San Diego City Father William Augustus Begole: Story of a Workhorse Pioneer.
According to oft-repeated family mythology, members of the Begole family were among the Huguenots who left France in 1685 when Louis XIVth revoked the Edict of Nantes and the "right" of French Protestants to practice their religion. Although there is a tiny village in the Pyrenees in the south of France named "Begole," and we might speculate that the family took as a surname the name of their village, at this writing neither the family's origins or their route to America have been investigated. They may have fled to Britain or Holland and lived there for several years, as many Huguenots did, before crossing the Atlantic.